The Tri-City Americans boast some of the top names in the NHL’s pipeline, including Michael Rasmussen (Detroit Red Wings), Jake Bean (Carolina Hurricanes), Kyle Olson (Anaheim Ducks) and Morgan Geekie (Carolina Hurricanes) and their secret weapon, goaltender Patrick Dea (Edmonton Oilers). Just looking at their top players, you’d think they were the U.S. Division Champions. That honor actually went to the Everett Silvertips. The Tr-City Americans qualified for the playoffs as the first wild card in the conference. The best thing ever learned from junior hockey players is that “playoffs are like a whole new season.” They’re right. You never know what will happen next.
Tri-City Americans Make History with Double Sweep
The Tri-City Americans eliminated the B.C Division Champion Kelowna Rockets in a dominant first round. The Americans then outdid themselves with a sweep of the Victoria Royals. Among the highlights of the second round was a 7-0 shutout in Game 1. This is the first time in franchise history that the Americans swept two consecutive rounds of the playoffs.
The Everett Silvertips road to the Western Conference Final was not quite as easy, but it was equally thrilling. They dispatched I-5 rival the Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round, setting up what should have been a bigger showdown with the Portland Winterhawks. After an early Winterhawks victory in Game 1, the Everett Silvertips dominated the second round to advance to the Western Conference Final. The outcome was unsurprising. The life seemed to drain from the Winterhawks after a 6-0 loss in Game 2 and they never recovered. This marks the first time the Silvertips have advanced to the Western Conference Final since 2006.
The Big Question
Can the Tri-City Americans complete the hat trick with a sweep of the Everett Silvertips? It will not be easy. The Everett Silvertips literally never go down without a fight. They are one of the most physical teams in the Dub. The Silvertips also have one of the most rabid fan bases in the league. Everett fans are legendary for their favorite game day accessory, the dreaded cowbell. The Western Conference Final is an epic U.S Division rivalry, which should keep the WHL top brass happy. That was the original intention of the playoff format. It also guarantees that the U.S. Division will be represented in the WHL Championship. The Western Conference Final commences this Friday in Everett.
Players to Watch
Tri-City Americans Starring Morgan Geekie
The real star of this show is Morgan Geekie. Hardworking, physical and fearless, he has been on top of his game all season. He’s not the superstar that Rasmussen is, but that’s what I like about him. Another player to watch is 20-year-old goaltender Patrick Dea. To say he’s going out with a bang is an understatement. On the younger end of the spectrum, look out for rookie Sasha Mutala. He will be draft-eligible in 2019. Playoffs provide a preview of what promises to be a very bright future for Mutala.
The Silvertips are known for their physical, in-your-face style of play, which they use to their advantage. They are also loaded with talent that is sometimes overlooked. Their European players are top notch and they are backed by a goalie that is already a legend. My picks for top players to watch are Patrick Bajkov, Connor Dewar, Matt Fonteyne, Riley Sutter, Ondrej Vala, Reece Vitelli and of course, Carter Hart.
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